In its quest to redifine the public service, as per the recent public service study, the government has numerous interventions up its sleeves, come April 1st this year. The study was conducted to unearth the challenges of the civil service and recommend possible intervention strategies.
The recent decision by President Lt Gen Ian Khama and the public service boss, Ruth Maphorisa to downsize the public service by not replacing resigning and retiring employees was only the beginning as it will be followed by strict measures to make sure that the public service stays in shape and maintains its effectiveness and efficiency.
Khama recently revealed that he wants civil servants to be promoted on performance basis. During a visit to civil servants in Kweneng, the President said: “I would not have a problem if a perfoming certicate holder is promoted to supervise a degree holder or any other higher qualification if that certicate holder is a better perfomer.We want people who are willing to serve,” he said.
The reasons behind downsizing the civil service,Weekendpost has established will be to; “make it more affordable and to bring it in line with the new-scaled down role of the government in economic activities and to provide civil service with approapriate incentives,skills and motivation to enhance management and accountability.” Botswana’s wage bill is at 16/17 million Pula from a 54 billion budget and there are hundred and thirty thousand civil servants in the country.
A high ranking source at DPSM said that the downsizing will be achieved by privatising many of the inefficient and ineffective public agencies.The government, he said, will thus establish a symbiotic relationship between the private and public sector to achieve the goals of development.There has been constant clashes between the government and the private sector over the develoment of the country.
Maphorisa confirmed in an enterview with Weekendpost that Permanent Secretaries (PSs) and the rest of the civil service will with effect from the 1st of April be required to put on name tags among others. Ministers however will be excluded from this exercise.
The study has recommended the governmenment to inject new values and work ethics, approaches and attitudes to meet the growing demand for efficiency and productivity. Name tags, according to the study, will add discipline, a greater awareness of time and a sense of responsibility among others.
Our source revealed that “the government with the aid of the study has come to the realisation that the civil service traditionaly serves the state rather than the citizens, a culture that the government intends to root out”.
Despite this, another study by Salvator Schiaro-Campo has established that “in many countries in the South Saharan Africa, the civil service has sharply deteriorated,Botswana being one of the few exceptions.”
While he commends the emergence of local community initiatives,Campo says it is difficult to imagine how the civil service can be reformed on a lasting basis in most African countries without substancial improvements in governance,accountability,transparency and adherence to the rule of law.
Rightsizing-risks and oppotunities Campo’s service study revealed that, “central government employment may be high in a particular country as a useful “flag” but proves nothing in and of itself. The role of the government and degree of centralization vary from country to country”.
“For example, although France’s central civil service, as a percentage of population, is one of the world’s largest (about 3.5 percent), and the United Kingdom’s is one of the smallest (1 percent), total government employment accounts for around 10 percent of the population in both countries,” he said further adding that what this proves is merely that the French have chosen a more centralized system of government.
Determining the “right size” of a government workforce,he said, must be done on a country-by-country basis, taking into account the functions assigned to the state in that country, the degree of centralization, the skills profile, and, of course, the fiscal outlook.
Retrenchment according to Campo,can provide the where-withal to improve incentives and produce fiscal savings. But overemphasis on re-trenchment gives civil service reform a bad name and virtually ensures resistance.
“Moreover, retrenchment is almost always financially costly in the short term—and is often politically costly as well, particularly when unemployment is high. Political costs are not inevitable, however. Under certain conditions, public support for downsizing the government may offset opposition from those whose jobs are threatened, and internal opposition can be defused if downsizing is managed candidly and equitably,” he said.
According to Campo,when downsizing is necessary, it should not be approached as an end in itself or merely as a reaction to fiscal problems.
“Without careful planning and respect for the “law of unintended consequences,” retrenchment programs carry major risks. The short-term risk is skill reduction, if the program inadvertently encourages the best people to leave”, the study warned.
Furthermore,according to the study, “(Voluntary severance and early retirement can be especially problematic in this respect. The difficulty is that these downsizing measures are the easiest to carry out.) The medium-term risk is recurrence of overstaffing if personnel man-agement and control systems are not strengthened. Long-term risks include staff demoralization, lower-quality service, and loss of credibility if retrenchment is perceived as arbitrary and opaque, particularly in societies ridden with ethnic, clan, or religious conflicts”.
What are other reform measures? In addition to cost containment, civil service reform includes diagnostic and structural measures. Structural measures,according to Campo encompass reforming the salary structure, especially to restore competitiveness at higher levels; increasing the transparency and fairness of civil service regulations and giving greater weight to merit; increasing internal mobility; strengthening the capac-ity to manage personnel; providing training; and increasing accountability to the public.
Diagnostic measures on the other hand include civil service censuses, functional reviews of ministries, user surveys, data collection, and preparation of compendiums of regulations.
“Even in countries where circumstances are not yet conducive to reform, governments are often interested in diagnostic measures. A particularly useful starting point is a civil service census, which, if well designed, will not only uncover “ghost” workers and fraudulent wage payments but also provide the foundation for a human resources database and improved personnel management systems—which are needed to, among other things, prevent the recurrence of irregularities,” he said.
Wage policy Campo warns that the short-term fiscal savings from com-pressing wages are obvious but must not be allowed to drive wage policy. Deter-mining the adequacy of wages,he says, requires a country-specific, in-depth comparison of public-private wage differentials for compa-rable skills.
“Certainly, when public wages are too high relative to private wages, pub-lic wage cuts improve both resource alloca-tion and equity. However, developing countries typically have either barely com-petitive or inadequate public wages. In these cases, public wage cuts set in motion a vicious circle of demotivation, underper-formance, and justification for further reductions. (Fortunately, the reverse may also be true: even small wage increases can trigger a positive dynamic),” he added.
In practice,Campo says government wage reduction has usually entailed larger proportionate cuts at higher levels (or salary caps) and, thus, progressively greater salary compres-sion.
“(Internationally, average public wages range between 3 and 6 times per capita income, and the “compression ratio” be tween the highest and the lowest salary ranges from 3:1 to 20:1, with a norm of about 7:1.) Although the short-term equity considerations are understandable, the long-term outcomes of such a policy are the departure of better employees, difficulty inrecruiting qualified outsiders, and a “deskilled” labor force too poorly paid to resist temptation, cowed by pressures from politicians and influential private interests and unable to perform adequately.
Beyond the deterioration of public goods and services, the result is a worsening economic climate for the private sector and an increase in transaction costs for the economy as a whole,”he said in his study.
He continued that In recent years, governments have sought ways to target wage increases to essential skills or functions. This,he said, may well be the right policy, but a word of caution about “performance pay” is in order here.
“It is intuitively appealing to link bonuses to yearly performance in terms of specific out-put measures. However, the facts show that bonus schemes have been only marginally effective in improving performance, even in the private sector and especially in the public sector, where outputs are difficult to quantify,” he warned.
An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.
In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.
In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.
Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.
More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.
At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.
The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).
Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).
International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.
In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”
The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”
According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.
In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.
The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.
LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.
“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.
Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.
CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”
Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.
About ten (10) Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary candidates who lost the 2019 general election and petitioned results this week met with UDC Vice President, Dumelang Saleshando to discuss the way forward concerning the quandary that is the legal fees put before them by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) lawyers.
For a while now, UDC petitioners who are facing the wrath of quizzical sheriffs have demanded audience with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC) but in vain. However after the long wait for a tete-a-tete with the UDC, the petitioners met with Saleshando accompanied by other NEC members including Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, Reverend Mpho Dibeela and Dennis Alexander.